Half of British Drivers Think They Would Fail Driving Test

New Research Shows Over 70% Passed Test 10 Years Ago


Dave Grimshaw, Press Officer | 0114 274 4397

Today (1st June 2015) marks the 80th anniversary of compulsory driving testing in Britain but new research has revealed that half of drivers on our roads are not sure they would pass if they were to take their test again.

From the 1st June 1935 driving tests became compulsory for all drivers and riders who started driving on or after 1 April 1934 and the theory test was introduced much later in 1996.

But a new survey of 1,300 people by law firm Irwin Mitchell, which helps those injured in road accidents across the UK and abroad, has revealed that many drivers admit to breaking the rules of the road and would worry about taking both their practical and theory test despite many years of driving.

The research shows that 71% of today’s drivers passed their test more than 10 years ago with 49% of drivers doing so more than 20 years ago. Only half of drivers on the roads had to take a theory test and of those that have, 37% think they would fail if they had to do it again.

Expert Opinion
“The figures suggest that many drivers know they have lapsed into bad habits or have forgotten what they were taught during their test which for some was decades ago.

“The more people who flout the rules of the road, the greater chance of collisions occurring and we see on a daily basis the impact that accidents on the road can have on people’s lives. We help to secure rehabilitation and access to the best possible treatment to help with their recovery but from a preventative point of view it’s crucial that more is done to improve safety for all road users.

“The rise in the numbers of people cycling and the volume of traffic in today’s society means that a lot has changed in those 80 years, and while the driving test has been constantly updated, interestingly our research suggests that a majority of drivers (66%) believe that re-tests should take place after a number of years.”
Neil Whiteley, Partner

A total of 48% of drivers admitted that they are not sure if they would pass their practical test if it was to be retaken now with reasons including:

  • More than half say they have learnt bad habits (56%)
  • A third have forgotten what they were taught (29%)
  • 22% don’t understand some road signs
  • and 20% say the roads are too busy.

A third of drivers also admitted to not checking their mirrors regularly and 1 in 4 doesn’t indicate all the time. More than half admitted that they don’t always know the speed limit, something which Edney says is a massive concern.

Expert Opinion
“Speed limits are there for a reason and all the evidence shows that speeding vehicles are more likely to cause accidents and that those accidents are more likely to be cause serious injuries or fatalities. The fact that half of drivers admit not always knowing the speed limits is worrying because it means people could be at risk.”
Neil Whiteley, Partner

Read more about Irwin Mitchell's expertise in road accident claims.